Print 47 comment(s) - last by senecarr.. on Sep 13 at 11:13 AM

  (Source: AllPosters)
Apple was hardly the first to make a Dock/Launcher; if Samsung's Windows 8 launcher "stole", so did Steve Jobs

Gizmodo's Jesus Diaz wrote an intriguing headline "Samsung Is Copying Apple’s Dock In Their Win 8 Machines Too: Will They Ever Learn?"  Mr. Diaz comments:

I don't know if Samsung is now just taunting Apple or if their user interface "designers" are the same lazy idiots who copied the iPhone icons. In any case, this is getting hilarious. Or pathetic. Or disgusting. Or all of the above.

The premise is admittedly amusing.  Is Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (KSC:005930) really copying a patented and trademarked technology of Apple, Inc.'s (AAPL)?  Would it be that foolish after losing a caustic verdict in the smartphone space for allegedly lifting Apple features?

I. Who Really Invented the Dock?

The answer is that it depends on your definition of "copied", and what your feelings on a copy of a copy are, as a brief history of the dock by LunDuke explains.

When MacOS landed in 1984 it had no Dock (Launcher).  Arthur (1987) and RISC OS 2 (1989) -- operating systems from now-defunct ARM Holdings plc (LON:ARM) parent Acorn Computers -- were perhaps the first to add the feature, albeit in crude VGA form:

Risc OS 3.11
Acorn Computers pioneered the dock. [Image Source: LunDuke]

Later in 1989, Steve Jobs (having left Apple and gone to work at NeXT) pulled a Picasso and "stole" the idea, adding a dock to his NeXTSTEP operating system:

Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs arrived late to the dock/launcher part in 1989. [Image Source: FutureTG]

OS/2 3.0 (1994) and CDE (1993) offered minor improvements to this familiar theme.  But perhaps the most visually striking dock came in 2000 with AmigaOS 3.9's AmiDock, an operating system by German software firm Haage & Partner.

AmiDock was visually the most striking dock yet, made in 2000. [Image Source: LunDuke]

Lo and behold Steve Jobs -- having returned to Apple -- introduced a nearly identical dock to Amiga's in 2001 as part of the new MacOS X:

MacOS X Beta
The Aqua interface (MacOS X beta "Kodiak") added a dock to Apple's operating systems at long last.
[Image Source: Wikimedia Commons]

Eventually that dock would evolve visually to its current form.

OS X Mountain Lion
OS X Mountain Lion [Image Source: Apple]

But of course, Linux docks (which trace their roots to CDE, etc.) also have been actively evolving as well.  Both Ubuntu (Canonical Ltd.) and Gnome Desktop have docks which rival that of OS X, and owe to their rich lineage:

Gnome Desktop dock
Gnome Desktop (Ubuntu10.10 32-bit) [Image Source: YouTube]

II. Other Considerations : Did Samsung Infringe?

So is Samsung...

Samsung S Launcher
Samsung S Launcher [TechMynd]

...late to the dock party?   The Gizmodo piece and other similar pieces attacking Samsung do correctly point out that Apple acquired NeXTSTEP (by proxy its dock legacy and OS patent, U.S. Patent No. 5,146,556; filed Feb. 1991).  But they seriously overlook the fact that NeXTSTEP and Steve Jobs were not the first to create the dock -- Acorn Computers was.

Now Apple does hold another broad patent -- U.S. Patent No. 7,434,177 -- on the features of OS X, including the dock.  That patent was filed in Dec. 1999 and granted in 2008.  Some have interpreted that to Apple "patenting" the dock/launcher.  But in reality, it has made no effort yet to bring such enforcement and seems highly unlikely too; given the shaky historical ground it's on regarding prior art.

Gizmodo writes:

The Dock, as you can imagine, is patented.... Its design and functionality is credited to Bas Ording, Donald Lindsay and, drumroll, Steve Jobs.

However, the Dock is just a specific implementation detail in a broad patent regarding OS X.  Apple didn't "patent the dock".  It patented OS X, which includes a claim to a specific implementation of the dock.  Likewise it holds a patent on NeXTSTEP's graphical user interface, and claims to a crude early Dock.  

There often is a difference between a patent targeting a specific feature and a broad interface patent covering an entire system/user interface.  Often the latter approach leads to a narrowing of claims.  Thus this distinction should have been noted in the current coverage.

Also the patent itself contains a central claim:

1. A computer system comprising: a display; a cursor for pointing to a position within said display; a bar rendered on said display and having a plurality of tiles associated therewith; and a processor for varying a size of at least one of said plurality of tiles on said display when said cursor is proximate said bar on said display and for repositioning others of said plurality of tiles along said bar to accommodate the varied size of said one tile.

...which is slowly expanded upon in later claims.  The core of the claim is resizing tiles and repositioning the tiles, via moving the others.  The Samsung S Launcher does not appear to have either functionality.

Apple did not patent a bar with icons.  It patented specific animations of its task bar (Dock) icons.  Samsung does not appear to be overstepping this by simply having a more Dock/Launcher with static icons and a transparent back because that is not the invention claimed in the in Apple patent.

And besides this and the prior art issue, Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) has a broad cross-licensing pact with Apple and tends to zealously defend its Windows OEMs.  So it would likely not take kindly to Apple suing a Windows 8 device maker for a semi-similar design in a field with plentiful prior art.

Sources: Gizmodo, LunDuke

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RE: Come on Jason, let it go man ....
By JasonMick on 8/28/2012 5:47:27 PM , Rating: 3
Its true. I was in a Corsair hardware thread here a little bit ago and it was just me and two other people talking about how good they are. I think it ended at about six comments, piddly. No, nerds want drama.

Apple stories are a godsend for tech sites and getting ad hits. I'm sure looking at their own ad metrics has trained them. Rat pushes the lever and gets a piece of cheese, tech blogger posts Apple story and the ad revenue from forum slapfights come rolling in. Same thing.
I do like Corsair, but profile is a major influencer of coverage.

Corsair is a small hardware maker. It makes interesting products, but do 90 percent of Americans know or care about it? No.

By contrast Apple is forecast to be the most profitable company in the U.S. this year, and it generally has had the single best-selling smartphone (though the Galaxy S III may have usurped that title). Everyone knows about Apple (almost), and opinions on it vary.

Likewise, Samsung is the world's biggest LCD panel maker, biggest DRAM maker, biggest smartphone maker. It too is becoming a vast household name, if it is not already.

So am I covering this legal battle for hits? Not from my perspective. I'm covering it because:
A) It's interesting.
B) It's important.
C) Everyone can enjoy the coverage.
D) It "stirs the pot" and promotes a lively discussion on IP law.

Of course, the hits are a nice perk.

But this isn't a couple of bums fighting each other on the street corner. Apple v. Samsung is the corporate equivalent of if Donald Trump and Warren Buffett got in a fist fight down Wall St.

By RufusM on 8/29/2012 10:27:31 AM , Rating: 3
Yes, this is a landmark case for software patents and will define the software development and patent landscape in the wake of the final outcome of this case. Many believe it has a high probability of reaching the Supreme Court.

A final outcome for Apple means that very broad software patents are verified as enforceable in the US and large companies can effectively extort, under threat of law, anyone they think infringes on their software patents that refuses to bow down to their licensing terms.

By TakinYourPoints on 8/29/2012 3:11:08 PM , Rating: 2
Editorial tone is the big thing. Execution, not the subject is your problem. Lots of websites cover the same material, almost none do it in the National Enquirer style that is over here.

By senecarr on 9/13/2012 11:13:19 AM , Rating: 2
Apple v. Samsung is the corporate equivalent of if Donald Trump and Warren Buffett got in a fist fight down Wall St.

Now I kind of want to see that. Given his age and prostate cancer (which probably doesn't affect him TOO much) I'd give the fight to Trump. I'd call it a victory for Buffet if he got that stupid thing on Trumps head off in the first couple minutes though.

"Vista runs on Atom ... It's just no one uses it". -- Intel CEO Paul Otellini

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